Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says Government 'is right' to seek other advice on COVID-19 response

Aucklanders, you know that boundary that's keeping you locked in? If Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield had his way, it could have been ditched last week, but letting us out would have come with a longer wait. 

The Government instead opted to pick and choose which advice they followed. 

For 112 days, 18 hours, one minute and counting, Aucklanders have been locked up - and they're missing out on a lot. But according to New Zealand's top doctor, those missed cuddles could have happened as soon as the new traffic light system turned on. 

"At that point we felt that the boundary could then be removed," Dr Bloomfield said on Wednesday. 

Although the official health advice was to wait even longer to turn the traffic lights on. 

Dr Bloomfield told the Waitangi Tribunal he actually wanted the traffic light system to kick in across the country "a minimum of two weeks after Auckland DHBs reach 90 percent fully vaccinated".

The Government turned them on sooner. 

"We'd still be waiting potentially up until Christmas to move the country into the traffic light framework if we were following the health advice exactly as it was presented," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday. 

When the Government ditched their 90 percent target and switched the traffic lights on anyway, Dr Bloomfield said to the Waitangi Tribunal the hard boundary - that includes vaccine passes or negative tests - around Auckland, should be removed, because there will be "no public health justification to maintain it". 

Put another way, the boundary around Auckland has served its purpose. 

"For the most part our advice is taken actually in toto," Dr Bloomfield told Newshub. 

"Occasionally, there are differences, but that is right. I think it's important and appropriate that governments take advice from other parts of government and other departments, and that's what they've done in this situation."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I think the spirit of what we're working towards remains the same."

The Opposition just wants it open now. 

"It should be open today," said National leader Christopher Luxon. 

He doubled down on his second day, in the leader of the Opposition seat. 

"How are Kiwis expected to get ahead under a government that keeps them locked down longer than needed?" Luxon asked Ardern in Parliament. 

Ardern responded: "The only advice that I have seen suggesting that we've kept Auckland locked down longer than needed is from the leader of the Opposition."

She defended the Government's COVID-19 defences. 

"Health said we could simply lift it; our view was that the rest of New Zealand would appreciate additional measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. But Mr Speaker, it would be keeping with the member's 'let it rip' strategy with COVID."